Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Archive for the ‘Gluten Intolerance’ Category

A Humble Apology from Me to You

Dear Readers,

I feel I may owe you an apology, as I may have led you down the wrong path concerning gluten-free food at California Pizza Kitchen. I wrote a couple months ago an entry about my pleasant back-to-back experiences eating gluten-free at a West Palm Beach California Pizza Kitchen. Well apparently my experience was a lucky one, as many people have been sickened due to cross contamination at the chain restaurant all over the country; so much so that CPK has pulled the gluten-free crust from its menu.

The last thing I ever want to do is make anyone sick over a recommendation I gave on this blog, and I hope this post will right that wrong. The staff at the location at which I dined seemed very knowledgeable, but I now know that to have been an anomaly.

A Celiac.com article alerted me of CPK’s lack of training for its chefs and workers on the importance of preventing cross-contamination, writing:

…The company itself acknowledged that their preparation process allowed possible cross-contamination from their standard pizza crusts.

Ideally, California Pizza Kitchen will learn and grow from this experience, and return from the drawing board with a plan to deliver safe, gluten-free versions of their unique and much-loved pizzas.

We can only hope.

Happy reading and pleasant eating,

-Taylor

Advertisements

Fine Dining – Sans the Gluten

When you go to a really nice restaurant, you can usually expect that the food isn’t all going to be deep fried and off limits for Celiacs. But that doesn’t mean they won’t use flour to beef up their sauces or garnish their food with gourmet fried onions. So it’s nice to be able to go to a high-end restaurant, like Roy’s, and be presented with the prettiest gluten-free menu I’ve ever seen.

Naturally I expected a place like Roy’s, which I went to and loved prior to my dietary awakening, to hyper aware of the needs of its food-restricted patrons, regardless of whether the food on the menu is naturally gluten-free.  Roy’s takes steps to make parts of its kitchen completely free of the risks of cross-contamination, and knowing that makes a huge difference in the dining experience.

Another great aspect of the GF menu was that it was available in prix fixe format, so I got an appetizer, an entree and a dessert at a slightly reduced price from what it would be if ordered separately, and  I got to choose from anything on the gluten-free menu.

Roy’s is known for its pacific rim-style fare, so or my appetizer I ordered their version of a California roll, which I was delighted to have because cali rolls (one of my favorites) are usually off limits due to the fake crab (krab) used at many sushi restaurants. No filler here! Just sweet, succulent crab complemented by delicious and creamy avocado.

I stuck with the theme for my entree, ordering pan seared mahi mahi  with sweet corn, shiitakes, English peas, cherry tomatoes, and a Dijon lemon sauce.  It was light, summery, perfect.

Last was a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate souffle that burnt off the top of my mouth as I dug into its molten center with my spoon. It was a little rich compare to the rest of the meal, but I’ll take souffle any day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Roy’s has many locations throughout the country now, and you can find out on the website if the one nearest you offers the GF menu. I would highly recommend it for any special occasion.

Happy eating!

 

-Taylor

Atlanta’s Yeah! Burger is Celiac Heaven

Last week  I spent 8 hours in Atlanta, Georgia (and 10 on the road), and man did I make the most of it.  I had heard about a burger joint called Yeah! Burger from a snippet in another blog, and I didn’t even give my travel companions a choice: we were going.

Yeah Burger! offers two things I really thought I would never order at a restaurant again: a hamburger with a bun and, wait for it…

Onion Rings.

Both gluten-free.

Here’s a quick break down of this gluten-free diner’s dream:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Yeah! Burger has two locations in Atlanta, one in the Virginia Highlands area and one on the west side. We hit up the west side, which was in a gentrified area just outside downtown.  It was packed with young urban professionals.
  • All of the meat (you have your choice of beef, bison, chicken, turkey, or veggie) is all-natural or grass-fed.
  • The fries are homemade and hand cut. And even the fifty-fifty (half fries, half onion-rings) is available gluten-free
  • The buns are locally made, and provide that old burger-eating experience you remember, without taking away any of the taste. It’s nothing special, but it’s a good bun.
  • The GF onion rings seem to be made primarily with rice flour, as the breading tended to dissolve in my mouth rather quickly.  Again, not out-of-this-world, but more than satisfactory.
  • The place is a little pricey, but think about what you’re getting. It’s gourmet food with the feel of a down-home burger joint.
  • They also have a full bar.

Here’s the disclaimer from the menu:

Our gluten-free buns are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization and are toasted in a dedicated toaster. Our gluten-free fries, onion rings and wedges are made in a separate, dedicated fryer to maintain purity. Our gluten-free onion rings are made with gluten-free flour. Please note, however, that trace amounts of gluten may exist due to the proximity of the dedicated fryer to our other fryers. If you have severe reactions to trace amounts of gluten, we recommend you skip the fries, onion rings and wedges.

All I know is the staff was highly educated on all things gluten-free, and I didn’t  feel one bit glutened.

Now I just wish I didn’t have to drive five hours to eat there.

-Taylor

California Pizza Kitchen gets Gluten-free Friendly

While in West Palm for a wedding this past weekend, I visited an old friend of mine. This friend and I hadn’t seen each other in years due to an impromptu falling out.  I simply couldn’t tolerate this friend anymore, and I feared our relationship was irreparable. Well guys, I ‘m happy to report that this friend has changed his ways -in a big way. This friend is none other than California Pizza Kitchen (affectionately known as CPK), and it was long ago a favorite restaurant of mine. But this weekend, as I resigned myself to a salad lunch at a restaurant not of my choosing, I found myself pleasantly surprised.

Not only does CPK now have a complete GF menu, including GF crust available on all but two of their specialty pizzas, but the regular menu has a classy little GF next to each salad, soup or appetizer that comes naturally gluten-free. No fuss, no muss.

A friend and I opted to share the white pizza with applewood smoked bacon.  I scarfed two pieces down  before I remembered to photograph:

The very next day, another close friend of mine (this one human) drove up from Boca Raton to meet me for lunch. She wanted CPK. I didn’t complain.  This time we had the Jamaican Jerk, sans bacon. This time, I forgot to photograph at all.

-Taylor

Help Make Gluten-free Girl Scout Cookies Happen

Earlier this year, I posted a recipe for homemade gluten-free girl scout cookies, Trefoils to be exact, that didn’t really taste like the real thing, but were an admittedly delicious substitute.  Yet all the while I was thinking of how nice and convenient it would be to bring home a box of real gluten-free girl scout cookies, along with some Thin Mints and Tagalongs for my gluten friendly pals.

Now, a troop mother in Long Island is looking to make that happen.  Her daughter, Elle, has celiac disease, and though she has sold numerous boxes of the annual treats, she’s never tasted one herself.

[Stacy] Malinow said, “When my daughter is asked what’s your favorite cookie, she has a tough time with that, because she can’t answer that. She generally says Thin Mints, because she knows she likes mint, but she’s never had the cookies.”

I think she should start answering honestly – that no cookie is her favorite because the organization doesn’t feel like there’s enough demand.  If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings as you stand there buying cookies from a girl who’s never had them, you don’t deserve them.
Malinow estimates that 131,000 girl scouts have food allergies that prevent them from eating the cookies that fund their girl scout troops activities.  Malinow has started a petition to prove the demand is there.  You can sign it here.
-Taylor

Gluten-free Tennis Pro Attributes Success to Diet

The Wall Street Journal called him “the world’s best athlete of 2011.”  He’s beaten Nadal four times straight.  His first name sounds like a last name.

His name is Novak Djokovic and if you’ve heard of him you’re at least one of the following:

1. A dude.

2. A dude who watches ESPN exclusively even when the “good” sports are off-season.

3. Rich.

4. Over 40.

If you haven’t, you’ll hear of him soon because he’s unstoppable on the tennis court. And I’m thinking his nutritionist got a big raise

See, Djokovic’s nutritionist discovered last year that he has a gluten allergy, and since he dropped it from his diet, his life on and off court has taken a turn. Says the journal,

Djokovic’s serve, sloppy as recently as last season, is now precise, fluid and, at times, devastating. His forehand used to break down in tense moments; now he hits winners that seem to subscribe to undiscovered laws of physics. His backhand, always solid, is now impenetrable, even with Nadal’s famously high-bouncing forehand.

The one change in his life? Deleting the wheat.

Even if Djokovic’s newfound confidence stems from going gluten-free only because he told himself it’s the cause (as the WSJ article suggests), one can’t deny the results.  Or the good press for GF dieters and undiagnosed celiacs everywhere–especially the dudes.  The more men who hear the words “gluten-free” and “gluten intolerance” and see the positive effects the diet can have, the more likely they’ll be to get diagnosed, instead of toughing it out in favor of “appearing weak.”

Results may vary.  Going gluten-free may not make you Superman, or the best tennis player the world has ever seen, but it will make you feel better.

-Taylor

Frontier Soups Makes Weeknights Easy

Finding a full-time job is tough and a little bit soul-sucking.  I apologize for my continued lack of tri-weekly updating.  I plan to get back into at least bi-weekly posts next week. I’ve also been spending a lot of my time on my second project.  Click it. Click it!

Onward…

About six months ago, my mom picked up and presented me with two packages of “soup mix” she’d found at one of those specialty shops in small historic  towns.  I was skeptical.  It just looked like dried herbs and corn, and the packaging was a little cheesy.

Then one Sunday night I was super lazy and tried one of them.  I added a pound of ground beef and some soup stock (as well as a couple of other required ingredients) and like 30 minutes later – Goulash.  The brand was Frontier Soups and it was delicious. And simple.

So even though they run at about $6 a pop, I tracked them down at my local Fresh Market and picked up some more.  This time I added bay scallops, shrimp and cream to the “Florida Sunshine” Red Pepper and Corn Chowder and we gobbled it down, briefly pondering how excellent the addition of BACON would have been.

And if you think $6 is a lot for a soup mix, think about the fact that it serves 4-6, which lasts me about a solid week when I don’t feel like sharing.  Plus if it’s not available in your area you can order directly from the site.  Win.

-Taylor

Tag Cloud